The Jackson Hole loop is a g.a.s.—gonzo, abusive, and sick—and comes with chest-pounding bragging rights. Whoever first biked this improbable connector between Hurrah Pass and Amasa Back is a few fries short of a Happy Meal, and whoever selected it as the long-standing course of the Tour of Canyonlands Mountain Bike Race is downright twisted. Hallmarking this otherwise highly scenic ride is the infamous Jackson’s Ladder, a 0.25-milelong, near-vertical portage—uphill mind you—carved into the side of a 400-foot cliff. You can’t ride up, that’s for sure, and with your bike dangling from your shoulder the scramble is dubious. Halfway up, you’ll shake your head in wonderment. John Jackson, on the other hand, forged the route and used it purposefully during the pioneer era to run horses to and from town and pastures on the Colorado River.
The ride to and from the hike-a-bike is pure Moab. From the outset you click away the miles on the smooth-sailing Kane Springs Canyon Road to Hurrah Pass. Beyond the pass the route degrades to a rock- and sand-infested doubletrack, descends wildly, and winds through some of the most remote country bordering Moab. Then comes the portage. Ugh! The loop culminates with the thrilling descent off Amasa Back that is packed with countless ledgy slickrock stunts. Straggling back to the trailhead, you’ll concur that Jackson Hole is a g.a.s., but totally cool.
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